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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 
Listening to the Women

Listening to the Women

Adrian Paterson

Voices are central to the project of revolution, just as they are afterwards, and not only as a metaphor. If the 1916 rising was staged – and a surprisingly large number of participants in the event had a background in the theatre – no one could say that it went quite according to script.

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Literarily Hitler

Literarily Hitler

Paul O’Mahoney

The politicisation of everyday life is most typical of totalitarian regimes but every society in every age is susceptible. To politicise life is not to elevate it but to reduce it to one dimension and vulgarise it, sharpening partisanship and inducing people to lower their intellectual standards.

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The Cruel Ways of War

The Cruel Ways of War

Niamh Reilly

A sparkling collection of essays was published 100 years ago written by a man who had been regarded as a formidable intellectual and rising star of progressive Ireland. But Tom Kettle had died the previous year fighting in France and his book was already out of joint with the new times.

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Reclaiming the Lyric

Justin Quinn

Modernism, for many decades from the mid-twentieth century, dominated how we understood the visual arts, music, architecture, and design. If you wrote poems in rhyme about landscape and the seasons at the beginning of the twentieth century, you were out.

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Northern Star

Jim Smyth

Samuel Neilson was a principal in the founding of the first, open society of the United Irishmen and an architect of the underground movement and the alliance with the Defenders. When the strategic initiative shifted from Belfast to Dublin, Neilson shifted with it.

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Saving the Mind from Big Tech

Stephen Phillips

There was a time when it seemed that people didn’t mind what they shoved in their mouths as long as it was cheap. Then came ‘artisan food’, for which a minority would pay a premium. Might a willingness to pay for ‘artisan’ thought and analysis yet save what we used to call the quality press?

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Reading the Traces

Fergal Lenehan

In the 1930s, 426 refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, most of them Jewish, found refuge in Ireland. Though some objections were raised by the authorities at accepting them, in many cases they were to become significant contributors to the Irish economy.

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Work-Life Imbalance

John Fanning

If our humanist lives were organised around individualism, free markets, democracy and human rights, these, it is argued, are being undermined by information technology and bioscience, rendering the free individual ‘a fictitious tale concocted by an assembly of biochemical algorithms’.

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The Resident and the Stranger

Frank Freeman

Tolstoy oscillated between the profligate life and stable family life. Tolstoy the Resident wanted to live on his estate, write great works of art and love his family. Tolstoy the Stranger, alienated from family and society, wanted solitude, to serve pleasure when he was young and God when older.

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The Technological Savage

Frank Armstrong

The word ‘science’, which originally meant knowledge or understanding in general, gradually became narrowed to mean only physical science. But perhaps the passion for truth that impels the scientist and the passion of spirit we call religion need to be reunited.

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Team Amis

Kevin Power

To be accepted into Martin Amis’s canon of great writers you must be a writer, not necessarily of brilliant novels, or even of brilliant chapters, but of brilliant sentences and paragraphs. Plot, form, structure, psychological insight: all of these are secondary matters.

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Slaves to a Myth

Bryan Fanning

The notion that large numbers of Irish immigrants were once slaves has been mobilised by the American alt-right to deflect from historical and contemporary racism while simultaneously promoting a white nationalist agenda based on claims of white victimhood.

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The Green Island

Philip O’Connor

A valuable study of the treatment of Ireland in sections of the German print media shows an evolution from a reliance on a jumble of cliches about the nation – often of English provenance – to a more informed engagement, particularly on the part of Hamburg’s ‘Die Zeit’.

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The Book’s The Thing

Toby Barnard

A new study of reading in the eighteenth century returns books to the settings in which they were enjoyed, stressing how they were valued as aids to refinement and self-improvement and how frequently they were encountered through being read aloud for the benefit of a group.

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The Rock in Rough Weather

Tom Inglis

Those who still see a future for Irish Catholicism argue that in a materialist and individualistic age it can minister to ‘a deep spiritual hunger’. But there is little evidence that Catholics see church teachings as a means of living a good life, or its prayers and rituals as a means of being spiritual.

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In the Mix

Adrian Scahill

A new study of the traditional music of Co Clare employs an approach which highlights the fluidity and play between periphery and centre, between the dynamic of flow and the rootedness of place, between past and future, music as heritage and music as a creative art.

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With Karl and Groucho

Billy Mills

Augustus Young’s imagined conversations between Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, taking the form of a Socratic dialogue, range across the role of ideas in art, public versus private, the role of the audience, love, happiness, knowledge, Marx (Karl and Groucho) and racism.

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Wordplay

Declan O’Driscoll

It’s not easy being in a Joanna Walsh story. Nothing is quite as it should be and however fervently you maintain hope, that vision you have of how life might approach perfection ‑ the image imagined ‑ never settles or sharpens into focus.

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Love Persists, Despite

Nessa O’Mahony

Two new collections deal with the many challenges that life throws at us, from illness and ageing to bereavement, fragility and, eventually, death. And in spite of all this, the poet is compelled, as Kavanagh wrote, to ‘record love’s mystery without claptrap’.

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Thinking ’bout the Things

Afric McGlinchey

The strongest impression in Eva HD’s new collection of poems is of her casual register (she often uses words like ‘dunno’ and ‘uh’) and her focus on what Heidegger refers to as the thingness of things.

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People of No Account

David Langwallner

Arundhati Roy’s new novel, her first for twenty years, has many passages of fine writing but overall is something of an aesthetic mess. The key to understanding it and the passionate political impulses that lie behind it are perhaps to be found in Roy’s political writing about her native India.

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Traffic in Mockery

Adrian Paterson

The selling off of Ireland’s cultural heritage makes for decent business. Recently the treasures of what the auctioneer described as ‘Ireland’s greatest literary and artistic family’ netted just shy of £2 million. Where, if indeed anywhere, does the public interest come into this?

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Response to a Review

Robert W White

Robert W White takes issue with a review of his book Out of the Ashes, which appeared in the October 2017 issue.

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Places Like Home

Catherine Phil McCarthy

Poet Gerard Smyth and painter Seán McSweeney have produced a remarkable collaboration of words and images built around the farms, fields and landscapes of Co Meath, where each of them spent some time in childhood

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Alone in Luanda

Patrick Gillan

An exceptional novel from an Angolan writer details the brutality, cynicism and tragedy of war. Comedy, love and a touch of magic realism also contribute to a riveting narrative. It is a worthy winner of this year’s International Dublin Literary Award

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Part of What They Are

Maurice Earls

Driven by its history, Britain is hurtling towards a hard Brexit, which is likely to be a quite unpleasant experience for our neighbours, and perhaps to some degree also for us. Unless, that is, a coalition of pragmatists emerges in Westminster. In that eventuality perhaps Ireland should offer a helping hand.

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Mother of Invention

Mary Morrissy

Éilís Ní Dhuibne is a deceptive writer, deceptively light in tone, deceptively erudite in her references, deceptively irreverent in her treatment of form. Her literariness betrays itself when she pulls the narrative rug from under the reader and in her likeness for embroideries and yarns.

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Making Waves

Patricia Craig

A novel set on Rathlin Island at the end of the nineteenth century takes as its subject the arrival of Marconi’s men to conduct an experiment transmitting sound across the sea. It derives its considerable force from the conjunction of archaism and modernity, the clash of material and immaterial forces.

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Hauntings

Peter Sirr

Mark Granier’s poems are full of skies and hauntings, the missing, the dead, time’s erasures, ‘the slow shift of light’, the closely observing eye lighting on the city and where the city meets light and water and sky. He is, as one poem has it, an eternal ‘cloud watcher, seawatcher’.

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Circuitry of the Snowflake

Florian Gargaillo

The late Elise Partridge’s poems dealing with her cancer note that blurred vision can be a side effect of treatment. Yet even blurred vision - the alphabet letters b and d made out as ‘beer-bellied cousins’ – can for a poet mean enhanced vision, and seeing anew through metaphor and analogy.

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A Bhealach Féin

Ronan Sheehan

The writer and thinker Desmond Fennell has spent nearly seven decades searching for ways in which we – the Irish that is, but not just the Irish – might live a civilised and decent life. If we had already been close to being able to live such a life there would have been no need for the search.

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Hunger Amid Plenty

Margaret Smith

By late 1846 there were 1,207 inmates in Tralee workhouse and families were being turned away, even though they met the admission criteria. In 1847 the famine worsened, yet the wealthy continued to celebrate festive occasions like the Tralee races with lavish dinners and balls.

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Getting to Grey

Liam Hennessy

Bipolar disorder has been explained as an attempt to create a world in which everything is either black or white. The illness can only be treated, it is suggested, when the important third element is introduced.

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Astonished at Everything

Peter Sirr

Generosity and largeness of vision seem to meet happily in the poems of Uruguayan-French writer Jules Supervielle, which seem to cover great distances in short spaces.

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All or Nothing

Joschka Fischer

Those Germans who argue so vehemently against a so-called transfer union should realise that the EU has always been such a union. France got the CAP for its large rural economy and Germany the common market for its strong industry. Little has changed since.

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Birds, beasts and flowers

Gerald Dawe

DH Lawrence’s poetry offers a record of the powerful current of physical pleasure, the elusive joy of witnessing that which is different, and the kind of opinionated prickliness when things are not what they seem to be or should be.

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The Stilled World

Nicola Gordon Bowe

Unsentimental, sparing and unspecific, the painter Patrick Pye has sought figurative images to represent symbolically “the archetypes of our humanity” depicted in an alternative universe where expiation has been achieved.

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The Toad Work

The discovery of agriculture was the original curse that turned humanity away from its idyllic hunter-gatherer existence. No one is quite sure how it got started. Was it a series of unfortunate accidents or perhaps the work of some obsessive Mark Zuckerberg type?

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A Half-National Treasure

Jonathan Swift is regarded with some pride as being one of the most notable of Ireland’s long line of great writers. The man himself however would have preferred to have been considered an Englishman – though he did the Irish people some service.

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Art For All

In a long career as art historian and arts administrator, Kenneth Clark exhibited a constant commitment to the idea that ‘high culture’ should be available to the widest possible audience. His traditionalist approach did not please everyone, but that did not faze him in the slightest.

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Stroke City

Ireland’s fifth-largest city has many attractions – a broad river, a beautiful natural situation enclosed by hills, a resilient and humorous population, and two names, one for each section of the community.

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Sparks from the Comet

Dubliners on Culture Night this year heard a talk about one of the most eminent Dublin newspapers of the early nineteenth century, delivered in the very heart of what was then the city's newspaper and publishing district.

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Will There Be Blood?

Most of us assume that blood will always be available for us should we need it in transfusion. But in Ireland the only source is from volunteers, who donate out of altruism, receiving nothing in return except perhaps a 'warm glow'.

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The Proust of Ormiston Crescent

In 1912, EM Forster travelled to Belfast to meet Forrest Reid, whose novel ‘The Bracknels’ he had greatly admired. The two men were to become lifelong friends. On Reid’s death in 1947, Forster wrote that he was the most important man in Belfast, ‘though Belfast knew him not’.

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John Ashbery: The Syntax of Time

What marked John Ashbery out from most of his contemporaries was his extraordinary immersion in syntax as the prime organising force of his verse. Many readers noted the parallels between his mature writings and the late novels of Henry James.

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Socrates and 'O Jogo Bonito'

The Brazilian footballer - and medical doctor - Sócrates was a hero not just on the pitch but off, and his courageous engagements with politics in a dark era offer a good introduction to the country's recent history.

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Ivan Illich: An Exchange

David Cayley takes issue with a review of a book on the philosopher Ivan Illich. Seamus O’Mahony, the author of the review, responds to the criticism.

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The First Irexit

In 1922 Southern Irish unionists saw themselves as a cultured, cosmopolitan people, repositories of uprightness and fair dealing, bearers of values which could well be smothered by superstition, greed and chicanery should Ireland leave the United Kingdom.

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A European at Eighty

The historian Peter Burke has devoted his life to scholarly synthesis, specialising in short, densely argued and concise books which range across borders, both geographical and academic.

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It's wonderful to be here

Philip Larkin dated the sexual revolution to 1963 and the Beatles' first LP. Perhaps, but the album that came along fifty years ago this month was revolutionary in more than one sense.

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From ‘How’ to ‘What’ in Politics

Political debate in Ireland is conducted at a juvenile level of jeer and insult which bores the public even more than it does the TDs themselves. Greater civility is required, but an exploration of what shared norms as a society we wish to live by would also be beneficial.

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Eddy and Me

The success of a recent novel set in the depressed northern French region of Picardy reminds an Irish writer of her own novel set in the same village and focusing on the experience of a young Irish girl at the end of the 1950s. Not so much has changed in the culture in the intervening decades.

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First Impressions

It is not unusual today to pick up a book that is written by an Italian, published in London and printed in China. But the business of printing from the outset was no respecter of national boundaries and indeed had many globalist aspects as early as the sixteenth century.

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Election Fever

Scottish electors have been called to the polls five times in the last three years and will soon be voting for a sixth time. Society has become intensely politicised, chiefly to the benefit of the SNP. Otherwise the strongly unionist Tories are recovering, while Labour’s miseries continue.

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New Books

Irish Literature

Featuring a full chapter extract from The Abode of Fancy by Sam Coll and a poem from Paula Meehan's new collection, Geomantic.

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World Literature

Featuring 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty's The Sellout.

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Irish History & Politics

Featuring Hell at the Gates, in which Brian Cowen, the late Brian Lenihan, Eamon Ryan, Micheál Martin, Mary Harney and many others recount in their own words the inside story behind the government's infamous bailout.

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World History & Politics

Featuring Final Solution, David Cesarani's sweeping reappraisal challenging the accepted explanations for the anti-Jewish politics of Nazi Germany.

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Irish Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Paul Howard's I Read the News Today, Oh Boy, the extraordinary story of the young Irishman who was immortalized for ever in the opening lines of the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.

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World Culture, Philosophy & Science

Featuring Loose Canon: The Extraordinary Songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, an exploration of the lyrics and tunes that have won Clive James and his musical partner, Pete Atkin, a fanatical cult following.

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Ireland 1912 - 1922

Featuring Wherever the Firing Line Extends, Ronan McGreevey's study of the places where the Irish made their mark in World War I and are remembered in the monuments, cemeteries and landscapes of France and Flanders.

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More New Books ...